The case for American mass produced lager


I am not a beer snob. I have friends that give the obligatory snort at the mention of Budweiser and can categorize Belgian ales by the type of hops used. As is the case with enthusiants on any subject, beer snobs have invested time and money developing opinions and collecting data with which to bore the shit out of non-beer enthusiants. I don’t care about specific gravity unless I’m on the receiving end and the last thing I want to talk about at a gathering is the beer I’m drinking. Unless you made it. That changes the equation for some reason. I like it when people talk about things they made themselves (insert potty joke here.)

I tried making beer once. I should say that I tried watching people make beer once. I helped stir at one point so I guess I am technically a brewer. My brother makes beer all the time. He used to blog about the about the subject with some authority and I wish he would return to it because he was really funny. My brother-in-law also makes beer fairly often. I innocently asked them to show me how and came out of the process knowing less than I did when I went in. Apparently there are at least two ways to do things at every step in the brewing process. This was made evident by the constant bickering and second guessing between the two. I now know that you should always put the hops in and then turn up the heat until you get a boil. I also now know that you shouldn’t put the hops in until you have achieved a boil. I might be wrong about that step involving hops, but hops are the only ingredient I can remember. Weeks later we did all agree that the resulting beer, a compromise between two very good brewers, was awful.

An integral element to the beer snob’s verbal harangue is the phrase “In Europe…” followed by some factoid proving that beer is of cultural importance over there rather than a NASCAR sponsor and Americans are fat. I’ve been to Europe. I drank Guinness in Dublin and then McCaffery’s and Beamish as I moved west. Not all, but many of the locals around me drank Budweiser. I had whatever creamy pub ale the bartenders suggested in London. Again, Budweiser around me. I held (and maybe still do hold) the record for drinking a yard of beer in Keeble bar in Oxford (1:45 if you’re asking). Guess what was in the yard glass? I was given Nostro Azzuri in Italy which is virtually identical to Budweiser. My wife lived a year in Scotland. She had Scotch though her local was full of older Scotts drinking Budweiser.

Picture from strangecosmos.com

The problem with the “American beer is water,” argument is that people the world over drink water. We love water. It’s refreshing. This post started to take form while I was doing some work outside. The picture at the top of this post is my yard. It takes me just at an hour to mow it, front and back. When I’m done I don’t want a cherry infused triple bock with a 9.6 alcohol content. I want a Miller High Life, the champagne of beers. I want refreshing. I want boring American lager.

An old joke says that in some third world countries, the only crowd bigger than the one protesting in front of the American embassy is the one clamoring for visas in the back of the American embassy. Not a stretch for a beer analogy.

But shouldn’t we be talking about wine anyway? I have invested time and money developing opinions and collecting data on wine. I can bore you to tears.

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8 Responses to The case for American mass produced lager

  1. While I think I could piss better beer than Budweiser; I agree with you that sometimes a nice light refreshing (and refreshingly cheap) lager like High Life really hits the spot. That said, there is nothing like the complex and rich flavours of a good craft ale. If you’re on the East Coast, you’re probably in tthe distribution range of Flying Fish. They make a lot of good and some great craft beers that tend towards being clean and refreshing but retaining the craftsmanship that makes good beer wonderful. My favourite is the Exit 4 (check this out if you’re interested: http://unnecessarywords.com/2012/04/09/flying-fish-brewing-co-exit-4-american-trippel/ and you may change your mind about craft beer) which is brewed and named after my local Turnpike exit.

    • Ben says:

      I think you misunderstand me. I like all manner of beer. I just don’t think that denigrating American lager has to go hand in hand with proper appreciation of the rest of the stuff.
      As far as Flying Fish, I haven’t tried that one, but my previous job involved tasting new beers, wines, and liquors as they came on the market and I never saw it, so I’m assuming that it isn’t available (or at least it wasn’t a few months ago) here. I’ll keep an eye out. We have a local brewery called Good People down here, and while I enjoy their brown and India pale ales, they nailed proper beer with regular old Good People pale ale. If you see it, buy it.

  2. emmycooks says:

    I can totally support drinking cans of cheap flavorless American beer (or, hey, Kokanee). But Budweiser doesn’t fall into that category for me because it does have a flavor, and to me it’s a bad one.

    • Ben says:

      I had never heard of Kokanee so I Googled it. They made me tell them my date of birth and what province I live in. Since I couldn’t opt out or put a state, I told them I live in British Columbia. You made me lie.

      • emmycooks says:

        Or maybe I saved you from having a Canadian show up at your house, record all your demographic information and online preferences, and follow you around marketing Kokanee to you for the rest of your life. You’re welcome.

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